Review by GrAyEeWoLf

"The King of Iron Fist's 10th anniversary couldn't have been better"

The King of Iron Fist Tournament. Enter the TEKKEN!!

Time flies, doesn't it? It's already been 10 years since the original debut of the Tekken series. And while it's safe to say that this game was put together with the series' fans in mind, Tekken 5 is easily the BEST of today's 3D fighters.

First off, a little back story on what happened to the Tekken series in the past 5 years before we delve into the review ...

When Tekken 4 came out, it added a whole bunch of new features that didn't go well with followers of the Tekken franchise (moving before the start of the round, closed multi-tiered levels, and CHEAP wall juggling/cornering) For many, this was a HUGE step back in terms of gameplay. It just didn't feel like Tekken.

For a fan of the series like myself, that just made me lose almost all interest.

But ... 2004 would be the year that Tekken would return as the #1 3D fighter with the newest installment: Tekken 5.

Just as the saying goes: "sometimes you have to take a few steps back to move forward." You couldn't say it a better way when it comes to Tekken 5. While not completely perfect, Tekken 5 brings the series back to the way it used to be.

Now, for the review.

Story:

If you are a fan of the Tekken series, you know that the game's story is part of what makes it what it is. The story kicks off right where Tekken 4 left off. In short, Jin Kazama's bottled up evil finally breaks loose as he takes the devil form, just as Kazuya before him. Also, just as the game's intro tells you ...

"Heihachi Mishima ... is dead."

Well, I don't wanna spoil the game's story elements for you, so I'll close with this: the story is good for a fighting game =)

Gameplay:

As I said earlier, Namco took a step back in order to make a better game. The game is so similar in style to the Tekken 3/Tag Tournament era that you'll feel right at home with this game. While most of the new features that were added in Tekken 4 were done away with, the enclosed arenas are here to stay. But, thank goodness that trapping someone against a wall isn't as cheap as it was in T4.

First off, there are the 3 new fighters: Asuka Kazama (cousin to Jin and has a similar fighting style to that of Jun), Raven (whose resemblance to Wesley Snipe's character, Blade, is UNCANNY) and Feng Wei (an evil Kenpo master) all of which are brought in seamlessly, each interesting in his/her own right, and NOT instantly cheap (like Eddy Gordo/Christie Monteiro)

Also, many older characters have returned, including Wang, Baek and Bruce Irvin. This was a GREAT improvement over T4 which had about 20 or so fighters) When all fighters are availible, there are a total of over 30 selectable characters.

As for the the core fighting, the game is smoother than it's ever been. If you skipped over Tekken 4 and went right to Tekken 5 from Tekken 3/Tag (are we confused yet? lol) you'll notice how much more fluent each character's move sets are. Linking moves together is better than it's ever been. While each older character has been added a good number of new maneuvers, there's not too many to make it too complex.

It's easier said that Namco just took the classic Tekken formula and added to it unlike Tekken 4, where they nearly tried to reinvent the gameplay.

Sound:

Tekken's sound has always been nothing short of amazing (EXCEPT for Tekken 4). Unlike Tekken 4's questionable soundtrack, Tekken 5 has a good mix of techno-rock tracks that hark back to the remixxed songs back in Tekken 3. For the first time in a while, this game actually has some pretty memorable tunes (take the Moonlit meadow, for example. the stage is simply flawless)

As for the sound effects, they're the same sounds that you've heard from every past Tekken game. But, the voices are pretty cool this year as each character speaks in his/her native tougue. The greatest dialogue has to be between Mokujin and Roger (Roger makes kangaroo noises and Mokujin makes woodblock noises. It's just too hilarious)

Controls:

Any fighting game purist will tell you that you'll need an arcade stick to get the full experience. But, this time around, Namco thought of its fans and added the option of using your PlayStation controllers on arcade machines (which works out great, especially of the arcade's controls are faulty) so now you can take what you learn at home to the arcade and vice cersa.

But, with the PS2's dated D-pad, pulling off certain moves can be a bit frustrating to a person that doesn't have precise touch.

Graphics:

Hands down, this is one the few games out that push the PS2 to its limit, and it really shows. They say that the best in-game visuals come out close to the end of a system's lifespan, and this is DEFINITELY a good example of that. Each character is crafted in GREAT detail. Better than Tekken 4, which was ALSO a visual acheivement for it's time.

But, the real visual splendor lies in the games backrounds. The backrounds, in a word: stunning. From a dimly lit church, to the anime-inspired Moonlit meadow, the game's backrounds are unrivaled by ANY 3D fighting game.

Extras:

Namco celebrates 2 anniversaries this year: the 10th anniversary of the Tekken series and its 50th company anniversary. Well, for ANYONE that owns ANY home port of a Namco arcade port, you KNOW what to expect: a whole bunch of extras.

Namco built its console reputation on bringing arcade games home with the gold treatment, and Tekken 5 is no exception. Tekken 5 has the typical Tekken series extras:

- FMV endings and backround stories for every character
- a home version of the arcades intro vid
- Tekken 5 game trailers (both Japanese AND US)
- The Devil Within Mode
A new take on the 'Tekken Force' mode we've come to know. In this mode, you assume the role of Jin Kazama on a quest to find out his own identity.
- The arcade's extra features which include cosmetic character customization, ranking, and your player name

Sounds great, doesn't it? But, that's not the best part.

Being the 10th anniversary of Tekken, Namco decides to throw in TEKKEN 1, 2 AND 3!! You heard right. Arcade perfect ports of the original 3 Tekken games are on the same disc. Who could ask for anything more than that?

Namco ALSO threw in ANOTHER full game: Starblade. It also serves as the games initial loading mini game, but is unlockable as well.

Yes, people. You SHOULD thank Namco for putting everything they had into this game. They new what they did wrong, and they fixed it. The result? Tekken 5. A solid fighting game and a reminder of what a quality fighting game SHOULD be like.

Should you buy it? Yes. No question about it. This is Tekken in its purest form.


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 03/03/05


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